Biodiversity is all the different kinds of life you’ll find in one area – the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and microorganisms. These species work together in ecosystems, to maintain balance and support life. They are all interlinked – a bit like a spider’s web!
Biodiversity is essential for nature and wildlife to survive and provides us with everything we need: food, clean water, medicine, and shelter.
But it’s in danger.
According to the WWF, between 10,000 and 100,000 species are becoming extinct each year. The rapid loss of species we are seeing is estimated to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate.
This poses a threat to all species on the planet, as well as human food, medicine, clean air and water supplies.
So what’s causing so much biodiversity loss?
According the WWF reports, there are 5 key things threatening biodiversity:
Changes in how we use the land and sea
Half of the Earth’s green land is now occupied by cropland and pastures, deforesting woodland and forests and ploughing wild grassland. So, the intensification of farming and deforestation for agriculture has caused vast habitat loss and therefore biodiversity too.
Image by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay
From the overuse of pesticides, to plastic waste, to the toxic chemicals we put into the earth, the various kinds of pollution coming from human activity are harming nature and wildlife.
Overfishing, for example – using huge trawler ships – is depleting numbers of certain species of fish in the oceans – this threatens other species in the ecosystem too.
Human activities including deforestation of climate-absopring rainforests and the burning of fossil fuels is vast amounts of greenhouse gases to enter earth’s atmosphere. This is causing environmental changes – changes in the seasons; more floods, droughts and forest fires; rising sea temperatures; and unpredictable and extreme weather conditions. This disturbs natural habitats and species.
For example, rising temperatures in the oceans are killing marine organisms. Corals are particularly vulnerable to rising temperatures and ocean acidification can make it harder for shellfish and corals in the upper ocean to form shells and hard skeletons which they need for survival.
Invasive species and disease
Invasive species (plants, animals or other organisms not native to an area, typically brought by humans) are one of the leading causes of global biodiversity loss. They can damage native habitats and cause extinctions by displacing local species and spreading disease.
Nonetheless, scientists are confident there are ways we can help biodiversity recover!
Many of these solutions start with you, me, councils and communities – on a local level.
So what steps can you or I take?
Switch to a green energy provider
How we produce energy must change. Green energy like wind and solar don’t disrupt ecosystems and harm the earth as much as oil and gas. Avoiding fossil fuels will help combat climate change too! Good Energy or Green Energy are some examples of green energy suppliers.
Talk about it!
Educate your friends and family. We must all understand the value of biodiversity to life, health and wellbeing!
To halt biodiversity loss, we must produce food much more efficiently, using less land. Cutting out beef and dairy from your diet could not only help reduce the amount methane warming the atmosphere, it’ll halt deforestation too, as cattle requires vast amounts of deforested land for growing cattle feed and grazing.
Don’t waste food!
Richard Swannell, from the UN’s partner organisation, Wrap said:
“The 923 million tonnes of food being wasted each year would fill 23 million 40-tonne trucks. Bumper-to-bumper, enough to circle the Earth seven times.”
That’s right – we waste over 900 million tonnes of food a year.
To make food production more efficient and prevent further habitat loss, we must buy only what we will use and be conscious not to waste food!
Avoid pesticides in your garden
Pesticides may help some of your plants, but they can harm wildlife and biodiversity. Avoid using them wherever possible!
Keep wild areas in your garden
Your garden is a habitat to thousands of species! Allow space for grass, and wildflowers to bloom. This will create the perfect haven for bugs, plants, fungi, bacteria and animals to thrive!
Write to your council
Use your voice! Write to your local council demanding they protect and nurture more wild green spaces around your local area. You are more powerful than you think!
Intensive farming as one of the main causes of species decline. A big part of this is our increased use of pesticides when growing crops – harmful to wildlife, plants and other organisms.
Organic agriculture promotes biodiversity – using no unnatural chemicals. Studies conducted by The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Switzerland show organic farms have 46-72% percent more semi-natural habitats and host 30% more species than non-organic farms.
Support Indigenous Land Rights
Supporting Indigenous peoples and local communities (such as those in North America) on whose land biodiversity is thriving, but who are struggling to protect it against the pressures of external developers and extractive industries is crucial. Strengthening their land rights will help protect them as well as protecting biodiversity.
Inform yourself about indigenous land rights and help build public awareness about the subject
Public education and awareness building is critical to the implementation of indigenous rights and biodiversity conservation.
Avoid Palm Oil!
Palm oil is the most commonly produced vegetable oil. It’s in half of all supermarket products.
It’s found in frozen pizzas, margarine, biscuits, cosmetics, candles, detergents and many more household items.
But our use of palm oil is causing the catastrophic deforestation – destructions of forests which were once effective carbon sinks and the habitats of thousands of organisms and indigenous peoples.
Avoid buying products containing palm oil – there’s plenty of alternatives out there. Buying wholefoods, instead of processed foods is a good way to avoid it (and be healthier!).
Image by Elżbieta Michta from Pixabay
Most people aren’t actively trying to harm biodiversity, but biodiversity is threatened by the combined actions of our society just going about our day-to-day business.
We can all do our bit to support biodiversity and halt the destruction of habitats!
If you have any more suggestions or questions – don’t hesitate to reach out on Instagram!
The Buttercup Team